BURNSVILLE, Minn. — The coronavirus is making everyone anxious, but the world continues on. People get pregnant. People who are pregnant will continue to be pregnant. Babies are born.
So in response to the coronavirus, Dr. Regina Cho says she and her team from OBGYN Specialists decided to be a little more creative by offering OBGYN appointments curbside.
"It's just a regular check up so they can check the baby's heart rate, my heart rate and they check your size," patient Lara Page said. Page was checked out by Cho and her team, under a skyway that connects two buildings on the M Health Fairview Ridges campus in Burnsville. She never even had to step out of her car during the whole appointment.
"We're trying to come up with ways to keep our patients safe and still provide the face-to-face time they need from us," Dr. Cho said. "Pregnancy is supposed to be a joyful time, it's supposed to be a time when patients look forward to seeing their doctor, spending time with us, getting education and counseling from us. We know our patients feel cheated out of that."
Page says she's thankful that Dr. Cho could come up with something that could ease her mind. Page is 31.5 weeks along, and being pregnant during a pandemic isn't the easiest ordeal.
"It's a scary time to be pregnant that's for sure," Page said. "They're doing a great job. So they make us feel really comfortable."
Cho says it's important to see her patients in person, even if it's for a brief moment. She says blood work and ultrasounds inevitably require patients to be inside her clinic, but thought curbside would help minimize contact for patients who wouldn't need to be inside for long.
"We can listen to the baby's heartbeat, we can take their blood pressure, essential vital signs, assess the baby's position, assess for swelling in their lower extremities," Cho explained. "We can do all that within a minute or two of physical contact and the rest can be done at a safe distance while social distancing or through a virtual visit as well."
Cho added that some things like listening to a baby's heartbeat is irreplaceable, and cannot be done via telemedicine, further emphasizing the importance of curbside checkups.
"For many, if not all patients, hearing the baby's heartbeat is something that they look forward to their entire lives," Cho said. "So by allowing our team to come to the curbside, patients are still able to hear the heartbeat and bond with their baby, record it and share it with their family members."
In a time of constant stress, it might be too easy to get swept up in fear. However, Cho says this is how she creatively assures her patients that even in times like this, there are ways to never lose sight of joy.
"We're here to tell patients that it's okay to be happy, to celebrate your pregnancy," she said.
As for Page, she has just a few more weeks to go.
"I just can't wait to meet her," Page said. "I'm just excited to meet her and see this little person."
Dr. Cho says she will continue to offer curbside checkups to her patients who need her during this time. She says she will offer them as long as she needs to, and with weather permitting.
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The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.